Wrought iron is an iron alloy with a very low carbon content (unlike the high carbon content of steel), and in addition has fibrous inclusions, known as slag. This is what gives it a "grain" resembling wood, which is visible when it is etched or bent to the point of failure. Wrought iron is tough, malleable, ductile and easily welded. Historically, it was known as "commercially pure iron". However, it no longer qualifies as such because current standards for commercially pure iron require a carbon content of less than 0.008 wt%.
Prior to the development of effective methods of steelmaking and the availability of large quantities of steel, wrought iron was the most common form of malleable iron. A modest amount of wrought iron was used as a raw material for manufacturing of steel, which was mainly used to produce swords, cutlery, chisels, axes and other edge tools as well as springs and files. Demand for wrought iron reached its peak in the 1860s with the adaptation of ironclad warships and railways, but then declined as mild steel became more available.
Before they came to be made of mild steel, items produced from wrought iron included rivets, nails, wire, chains, rails, railway couplings, water and steam pipes, nuts, bolts, horseshoes, handrails, straps for timber roof trusses, and ornamental ironwork. Wrought iron is no longer produced on a commercial scale. Many products described nowadays as 'wrought iron', such as guard rails, garden furniture and gates, are made of mild steel. They retain that description because they are wrought (worked) by hand.
In Victorian time ornamental wrought ironwork was an indispensable part of architectural ornament. This was very much the case not only in homes for this life, but also in the homes for the afterlife, i.e. graves! Melbourne Central Cemetery has a huge number of graves from the Victorian era, which have much wrought iron in the form of ornamental railings and little "fences" around the graves. The last photo amuses me as it is one of ornamental ironwork railings on a rooftop viewing platform, reminiscent of the railings around a grave. The little angels complete the funerary illusion.
This post is part of Julie's Taphophile Tragics meme.